In a place where Christmas day is often balmy and New Year’s is as likely to be sunny and 60 degrees as cold and grey, the rare winter storm can be a delight to the senses.

When a front rolls into the Big Bend, hugging the mountains and creeping with its freezing fog through all the nooks and crannies of the landscape, the desert is brought to life. Every leaf, fence wire and cactus thorn is outlined in crystal. Colors are washed away, leaving stark blacks and whites against a backdrop of muted gray sky. In bygone days, when photographs themselves were a luxury, most of the pictures of our little towns were taken on days such as this, when a rare winter storm transformed the landscape of everyday into a spectacular canvas.

A profusion of perfect crystals grows on a chain-link fence. Horses search for a morsel of grass in a frosted field. The wind plays fractal games with the trees, forming a beautiful chaos of perfect miniature icicles on every branch. Cacti sleep under a perfect cap of winter, every thorn perfectly coated.

And Twin Peaks presides over Alpine, softened and lovely in her winter cloak. We aren’t blessed every year with winter’s display, but the relative rarity of ice in the Big Bend makes it all the more breathtaking. How much more precious would diamonds be if they melted away in a day?